Wednesday, 30 March 2016


Eggbox: An Easter Play

A play with an unspecified number of acts, written to be acted by the audience and spectated by the actors who will leave the stage and replenish the space left by the original audience.

Rabbit: christen this “eggbox baroque”
a kingdom courted by its romance
in warp and precious frill of weft
plaintive misgivings concerning what was
and what is left
is now cloven, opulent and neurotic.
as if the pantry were an abattoir
of the writer’s hooked provisions. neat.

[vomits a pack of cards

a dickish flounce of marginalia]

the phrase ‘wistful trellis’ and the word ‘lozenge’
titter over flutes of bubbling extortion.
like jinx the gazebo Scooby –
this confected pretence is alien
but I upholster the humid evening
with its ornamentation. * sigh *
gemstones of learning
grow tepid in the half light.
 [cuts off left ear]

CHORUS: they yawn for better days.

Rabbit: [ after plugging left ear-stump with daisies]
 the thing is, there is seduction
 in these evasions.
 a sort of noxious allure
 in perfume…

 …that draws its strength from places
 and people that have never existed.
 the thing is so gracefully un-thinged
 as to be literary. here
 nibble guppies in the mangrove
 pearling necklaces of gas – collect,
 confect and then dissect: privilege
 teeming in the arduous thesaurus.

[the daisies have turned red]

CHORUS: Pondweed, pondweed, pondweed!

[ offstage heckles detailing the lateness of the hour

and the one-eared rabbit’s resemblance

                        to a furred aerial, bent
                                                and mournfully visible

                                                             in its harrowing publicity
 a special kind of redundancy. this is not
explicitly verbalised, the heckle in fact
only notes “fuck this watership clown
I’m outta here!” this is to be followed 
by vague murmurs of agreement, 
supplied by the audience
who were originally poised as actors
and are convinced of their own superior
abilities to enact the rabbit’s own particular

Rabbit: i’ve eaten from the vestigial cobwebs of my youth…
             or something similar.

 it may have been important
             for someone somewhere at sometime.

 where is the space for the reader?
 when does the world appear?
 and what, if anything, is at stake?

             there is no risk in wrestling a bear if the bear
             is muzzled and with arms tied and
 not in fact a bear, but a large lack of bear
 to be played by a non-descript dog
 in a wheelchair, whose collar reminds us
 this was our contrivance all along.

CHORUS: [remains silent and considers leaving the stage]

Rabbit: [ the daisies have all but fallen out, those that remain are like sodden red weeds plastered to a whiskered jaw; the rabbit has lost a dangerous amount of blood. the rabbit
limps, coughs twice and exits stage left. we hear the sound of a small body collapse; the sound indicates several objects have been knocked over. a tin bucket rolls into view and comes to rest at centre stage.]

 CHORUS: [collective shrug

the chorus exit stage right.
having all left the stage, one member of the chorus returns
to retrieve the bucket
 – mutters something about a leak


for three minutes nothing happens and the stage is empty. on the third minute a previously seated member of the cast-turned-audience rises and strides towards the stage to reprise a thwarted belonging upon the boards. a spotlight picks out her path, illuminated from chair to crawled slither beneath the theatre’s heavy curtain. the sound of a klaxon is heard. reappearance of the actress-turned audience member-turned actress. velvet swathes of red are drawn once again and the audience can make out what appears to be a pot-bellied duck in a scuba suit.

Platypus: rabbit nested his impression of the world
                with woollen hand-me-downs

                [sneezes violently]

bluffed allusion.

based-in surrey, scratched out
     in airy cartwheels where the archives natter
to recalcitrant tumours of bureaucracy

hear ye! hear ye! and such.

                 i have seen, done, heard, eaten,
     breathed, excreted, dreamt, swam,
     fucked and buried greater things
                 than were ever catalogued
                 in his bookish hollow.
                 what’s wrong with surrey?
                 nothing, as long as you don’t
                 adopt the sensibility of a brooklyn
                 hipster weaned on beatnik misogony
                 and the erudite affectations
                 of a harvard-educated jelly bean
                 fond of domesticated transgression.
                 like so:

                 [ produces a serrated knife and begins to saw through her right arm]

CHORUS: [returns – shuffled reluctance – watch on
       as the platypus proceeds to dismember herself.

      they wait until she is just a duck-billed torso
      with one leg before bursting into urgent song]

the rabbit, rabbit, rabbit tried
to look at living with a napkin
but the rabbit, rabbit, rabbit died
in the fluffy throes of actin’

Platypus: rabbit wanted to write in a way
                that made cheese and bread
                into works of byzantine proportion.
                their crumbs – the winking sistene teeth,
                their crusts –  stern bastions of faith.

CHORUS: the rabbit, rabbit, rabbit ran
      but with gammy legs and leaking blood
      the rabbit, rabbit, was a man
      and sleeps now in the mud

Platypus: candy floss would make accessible
                what learning had edified. so the
                great philosophers could joust with
                with innuendo, cerebral imaginings
                could be worn lightly with a flowered
                turd in the lapel. and those left out
                of the conversation would know. that
                is not my world.

CHORUS: marsupial cynicism is as anthrax in the ready-brek.
                  our lines are profoundly frivolous, the writer is expendable.

Platypus:  so rabbit would have an experience, like he would
                 attend a party and get drunk and wake up with
                 an unremarkable headache but with the inclination
     that his apprehension of its unremarkable quality
     was remarkable. to remark upon this state of affairs
                 would require, he believed, a tissue paper effect
                 through which slabs of experience could
                 be made to shimmer.

     for instance, drinking two cans of lager became falconry
     and the cut-price candles drooling wax on ikea furniture
     became lamentable arabesques of the unfathomable.
     a packet of cheese and onion became amethyst.
     instant coffee insisted upon
     a more meditative correlative
     found, at last, in a rustic jar of hibiscus tea.

CHORUS: a killer in the dovecote! a plague confined to this foul bungalow!
            [ unsure of their relevance in the Platypus’ lengthy monologue, the chorus
              resorts to obscurantist references in what one member assures the others is
                             a verifiable and entirely authentic testament of the occult]

Platypus: this party was rabbit’s first and last experience of love.
                he was dancing to a song he didn’t like when he first
                saw her. a thrill of knowing that she was looking at him
                as he was looking at her, with enough subtext to ensure
    their looking was just the placeholder for something more.

    the rest of the party was subsequently imbued with a warm
    significance, everything felt as though it was the natural
    and inevitable reward of that initial moment.
    though, of course, this was heightened
    by the falconry. rabbit wandered from room to room,
    would catch her
    waiting for him

    to join a conversation, to move past
    and trail hopeful fingers near her own. to feel the
    brushed contact and its response, glowing. their
    flirtations required no effort and became drowsy
    gestures toward an attraction now inseparable
    from the situation in which it formed – colours of the room,
    music bodily ingested, the open doors and laughter,
    stars as they fell out of the house, swaying
    hand in hand into the dark garden – its grass
    already wet with dew.

    rabbit and his love
    were savouring the heavy breath and
    coiled suspense of their bodies. if it was less
    slurred and further from the frank debilitation
    of their mutual tangle, such rhythms
    could be mapped in dance.

   it was almost, it was so almost, and then it was.
   it was happening. what they both had known
   and both had wanted, back in that first look, it was
   now simply and freely being. rabbit’s love was naked
   and so he too removed his clothes, everything was
   joined and sliding from its decorum back in
   the regular sobriety of time and space, and instead
   now voicing its glad blurring in a hot catching
   of tongues and the touch of eyes that previously only
   thought to look but that were now as each other exchanged,
   rolling into a way of drinking the feeling of dew beneath them
   and heat between them and the almost – but not yet –  spinning
   stars above them

rabbit noticed two other figures looming over them, two
interlopers in their perfectly blundered act.
“Fuck off” …words that seemed to crush the drunken
 flight of urgency and bring it staggering from waves
of now and need and you and you and and –
into the awkward jab of pebbles underfoot.

the two figures watched rabbit, rutting
his drunken body further and further into a heaped
flowerbed. flailing and thrusting, groping at
handfuls of dirt, crying out, panting, and completely alone.
rabbit’s lover was only ever seen and felt by rabbit
and was a very persuasive extension of his current
and precarious state of rabbit-mind. a hallucination.
he would see people. people and forms and newly
imagined forms of people, some of them dead
or returning from death.

CHORUS: [back on board with the platypus and having discredited any testimony
       pertaining to the occult]

from the oatmeal depths of a russet grave to its risen body, gilded with
an apricot tiara, kissed on each and every diamond by gracious
dawn – O sweet and darkling ambrosia – O spores of uncommon
undead distraction – be Lazarus – be lusty – be free!

Platypus: he saw them all. saw them, felt them, loved them.

            [ saws off her remaining leg and with a sharp intake of breath drops to
              hit the stage like a sack of potatoes, resigned to brute objectivity, to the dull weight
             and cumbersome earth from whence they came]

            no more poems in the eggbox. He saw them wander. He called them.
            called them into his arms. called them names. called them rabbit and
            platypus. he spoke fondly of his fingers, knitting them in steeples
            over his heart. these are the fingers. the singers. fluttering.
            the chorus of my action. and he saw them, called them, heard them all.
            wished us together in a stitched mortar of lines, stolen from other
            writers. from other ways of seeing. and those god-awful poems of his.
the word ‘lozenge’, ‘arterial’, and ‘dendritic’ thrumming in
the jumped up swamp of over-indulged but nevertheless friendly
bacteria. and that precocious inability to listen. gut flora.
that behind the affectation was a posture and behind that a painted eggshell.
rabbit saw platypus as seen by himself as neither rabbit nor platypus
but still seeing, and it was exhilarating to know that so much,
so much of this time and space, so much of the audience and acting,
of the script and lighting, of those long curdled expectations,
that so much could be so handsomely invested in what
it would now appear had never once appeared
to anyone other than him.